You Asked For It 5.10c X
Trip ReportI Asked For It-October 13, 2015
The appropriately named You Asked For It ascends the widest black streak on the far right end of Medlicott Dome in Tuolumne Meadows. Its three pitches of sustained steep face and slab climbing are protected by only four bolts and a single cam placement. Another bold statement from John Bachar, You Asked For It was the precursor to Medlicottís more famous test piece, The Bachar Yerian, established a month later. These two routes create perfect bookends for the most imposing part of Medlicott, in my estimation Tuolumneís most impressive dome.
Admittedly, Iíve got a bit of reverence for Bachar and have been attracted to his routes as long as Iíve been climbing. Not only do many of the lines he chose contain fantastic, difficult climbing, the style in which he demanded you climb some of them in, is the ultimate challenge. There will be chances for retreat, but once you begin, those chances are few. Down climbing, save for a few moves here and there, is generally out of the question.
Iíve come to view You Asked For It and The Bachar Yerian as companion routes. They belong together, and if you climb one, you should climb the other. They both feature hard, extremely dangerous climbing on excellent rock in a specific and sometimes cryptic style. Both are sandbags, even at their current guidebook ratings which have slowly crept up from Bacharís original suggestions (BY was ď10d Bachar," 11c currently and YAFI was ď10a Bachar," 10c currently).
You Asked For It is even more runout than The Bachar Yerian. Itís also more dangerous due to the fact that there is a broad ledge to hit for much of the first pitch. It is not as hard, but it is pretty damn hard. The second pitch is so runout that I suppose it is also possible to hit the ledge at the base of the first pitch if you came off from up high on the second, a grim prospect.
Prior to the attempt, my partner Nancy and I spent about a week climbing in Tuolumne while commuting from Bishop. It always takes some time to acclimatize to the elevation. However, unlike my 2013 prep for The Bachar Yerian I didnít climb any knob routes. I stayed up awhile the night before pouring over the topos as well as a few of the available pictures from the bolt replacement effort in 2009 by Drew Rollins, Greg Barnes, and Karin Wuhrmann. It was hard not to dwell on the fact that Mike Waugh, clearly a very talented climber with multiple ascents of both routes, took a fall in the neighborhood of 100 feet on one of the slab pitches, cracking his skull in the process.
We arrived at the parking lot on a cool, crisp morning the following day after a holiday weekend. There was one other car there; its lone occupant was headed up to TR solo The Bachar Yerian in preparation for another lead attempt. He broke his ribs in 2009 during a massive fall off of the second pitch. Despite his injuries he was back. The allure of the route is powerful. I understand the desire fully, experiencing my own epic failure on it in 2012 yet compelled to return the following year. After chatting awhile, we headed up to the dome arriving at the base a short while later.
The main event starts roughly 160 feet off the ground from a long, broad ledge. There are two options for the approach pitch. The first climbs the black streak directly on poor rock with poor protection. Initially choosing this, I wandered this way and that, and eventually cleaned my pro and down climbed. Iíd gotten some cams behind hollow grainy flakes and wasnít really sure which way to go. The climbing wasnít very good and I didnít want to waste any more time and energy on it. I would need that later. We moved camp to the right and I motored up an easy left rising flake to the ledge below a very steep wall.
While bringing Nancy up, I worked on locating the first pitchís two protection bolts. The first is fifteen feet up while the second is forty-five feet off the ledge. I visualized the path and then stopped looking. I needed to psyche up and not get psyched out. The first bolt is the bait, getting to the second without decking is the challenge, and clipping it is the reward.
Hard, off-balance moves immediately off the ledge lead to a tenuous stance. A tricky cross over followed by a few cranker moves and I arrived at bolt one.
After a body length and a half I was back in the ledge out zone. If I were to come off in this section, at a minimum, I would be severely injured. I composed myself and focused only on the moves, testing knobs, calculating and patiently making upward progress. Relieved, I clipped the second bolt.
The sun started to hit the face and was directly overhead making it difficult to see. The holds now weave to the right, slowly easing to secure edges. The difficulty mercifully backs off incrementally on the way to the belay on a comfortable ledge.
Again, while bringing Nancy up I worked on spotting the lone protection bolt. It glinted in the sun about forty feet above. As I started up, I wondered where all of the holds went. The first pitch has holds to crank on, but this pitch was all about insecure slab climbing. Delicate sequence after delicate sequence brought me to the bolt. Fifteen feet above the bolt and unsure of where to go I started to think, ďMan, this is a really bad idea."
I seriously considered down climbing and backing off. My feet were numbing out, and I wasnít sure if my right foot was starting to grease off. I rocked back and forth and a bit of life returned to my feet. I decided to commit to a few more moves. Using a fingernail crimp and a dynamic right foot rock up I gained another miserable stance. There was no backing off now. Cautiously, I crept and scratched my way up another twenty-five unprotected feet to a good hold. I mantled it to a stance ten feet below the belay. There was a decent knob just out of reach. Resigning myself to the fact that there wasnít a bolt despite the easy drilling stance (I had asked for it after all), I performed a no hands smear step, snatched the lone knob, and cranked to the belay.
At the belay with one more pitch looming above Nancy asked, ďDo you want to keep going?Ē
ďOf course, we have to!Ē I replied only to later find myself again muttering, ďMan, this is a really bad idea.Ē
You canít see the only protection bolt on pitch three because the rock bulges above the belay. Unobvious climbing took me right and then back left bringing me above the bulge. The bolt was in sight fifteen feet higher and thirty feet off the belay. I came to a rounded overlap similar to one of the Michelin Manís fat rolls. Unfortunately, the rock is a bit scrappy here and the solid holds are out of reach. I pulled on some suspect knobs and tiptoed to a stance.
More of the same devious business got me to a bizarre hole thirty feet higher. Judging by the amount of moss and dirt I excavated, the route hadnít been climbed in a while. Fortunately, the hole takes a good 3Ē cam.
Just when I was starting to cruise and have a bit of fun, I was confronted with one more hard sequence fifty feet out, only a few moves from the belay. Instead of moaning, I marveled at Bacharís commitment. Iíd just completed hundreds of similar moves so what was one more? I arrived at the anchor, tied in, sank back and smiled.
This is as far out as I'd ever want to take the runout game. I imagine it'd be similar to going to the moon in1969 or perhaps diffusing a series of bombs. That being said, there is one more Bachar Tuolumne masterpiece that I havenít gotten a chance to look at yet. We planned on hiking in to eyeball it earlier in the trip, but perhaps itís best to let sleeping dogs lie.
ST You Asked For It thread
Johnny Rock article from Climbing October 1986
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